Tin Hau Harmonica Elbow Beggar

I haven’t been seeing many beggars around lately, except for the LKF Plastic Bag Lady and possibly the Wanchai Homeless Beggar whom I think I spotted in Lan Kwai Fong the other night.

However, I did see a rather upbeat and jolly beggar a few weeks ago in Tin Hau just outside the MTR station on King’s Road. He had picked a good location, since sizable crowds would gather while waiting to cross the busy intersection. 

At first glance, the Tin Hau Harmonica Elbow Beggar (you’ll understand the name soon) looked like a normal person who was just playing the harmonica out of his elbows (a way to get attention perhaps) but upon closer inspection, I realised that he didn’t have any forearms — just little stumps after the elbow joint.

While playing his tunes, he was also side-stepping to the music and grooving along, not to mention making eye contact with everyone who passed. It was pretty cool to see a beggar getting so into it, unlike the more dormant types like the Mong Kok Tree Trunk Stumps Beggar or the Wanchai Parma Ham Leg BeggarKeep it up, dude!

A hairy wristband

I know it’s rude to stare, but last night, I saw something that I just couldn’t tear my eyes away from.

He was standing across me in the MTR, looking rather normal for a Hong Kong dude (glasses, short black hair, T-shirt and jeans, and holding an iPad). It was probably his iPad that drew my eyes toward his wrist, which is how I noticed that he was wearing some kind of hairy wristband.

‘Pretty neat,’ I thought to myself as my eyes zoomed in, wondering what kind of material it was made of. It was super thick, so maybe faux fur? But then, the sudden realisation hit me that that was no wristband — that was a GIGANTIC rectangular MOLE wrapped around his wrist with a thick forest of hair growing out of it.

Feeling a mixture of shock, fear and awe (it was, after all, the biggest and hairiest mole I’ve ever seen), my eyes were locked onto that dark patch of densely grown hair until its owner stepped off the MTR. Where he’s gone, I have no clue, but one thing’s for sure — I won’t be forgetting the hairy wristband anytime soon.

Your Yawn Face

Manners are a funny thing. To some, they seem instinctual. To others (especially in Hong Kong), they don’t even exist. 
Take covering your mouth when you yawn as an example. Apparently, this manner was created in the medieval times in order to prevent the soul from escaping the body (no idea what happened if you opened your mouth to talk or eat).
Later, it became a practical thing. Back when people had horrible dental hygiene (read: none), it was a good way of shielding your friends and loved ones from your personal cloud of rotten breath.
These days, those original reasons may no longer apply, but I can still think of one very good reason to cover your mouth when you yawn.
This is how you look normally:
This is how you look when you yawn:

Now imagine turning a corner and seeing the yawning version of yourself for just a split second, and that’s all you’ll ever see. Great first impression, no?
Besides scaring the shit out of someone (who thinks you’re about to attack), you also resemble a cross between a screaming baboon, shrieking zombie and wild banshee, not to mention that everyone can see right into the depths of your mouth (and anything you left there from lunch).
So, think twice before you go around with your yawn face, ladies and gentlemen, unless that’s how you want to be recognized.

Canto 101: Three-inch men

Just when you were running out of insults for the short men in your life (there’s only so many times you can call him shortie, lil guy, midget and Willow before he goes numb), here’s another one for ya: three-inch nail (saam chyun deng, 三寸釘 ). 
Yup, leave it to the Cantonese to come up with slang that’s both creative and totally appropriate! Let’s examine the ways in which 3-inch nails are similar to short men: they’re both steely and cold, not quite long enough to be useful, and both can turn out to be complete pricks!
Haha, just kidding… of course that all applies to normal men as well. But, add to the fact that ‘inch’ in Canto also sounds like the word for ‘arrogant,’ and the whole thing starts to make more sense than you think. 
Maybe I’ve got it wrong and three-inch nail is actually an endearing term for vertically challenged men. Anyone out there know? And if so, does that mean that three short men make 9-inch nails? 
\m/ |>_<| \m/

Little Miss Blockhead

There’s a girl in my building whom I just had to immortalize into drawing. I see her maybe once a week, sometimes less, but each time, I’m shocked at how BIG her head is. Not only is it big, it’s also totally block-shaped, thanks to her square jaw and thick, black hair that’s cut and blown in the shape of a box.

Stupid happy blockhead

Sometimes, I’ll see her strutting down the street alone with a big goofy smile on her face, apparently feeling very happy about herself despite not having anyone around (that always creeps me out) but once our eyes meet and she catches me staring, her expression immediately darkens and she casts a glare at me like she wants me dead!

Angry blockhead

I could be wrong, but her glare also seems to say, “What are you staring at, you jealous of what I got?!” It’s downright creepy and I usually divert my eyes right away. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I highly doubt it as my colleague has spotted her before and got “the chills” too. What have I ever done to you, Little Miss Blockhead?

Tapping the reef

After six consecutive days of diving in the pristine turquoise waters of the Celebes Sea, you could say that I’m going through a little bit of withdrawal. So much so that I, someone who usually hates playing any kind of computer/iPhone game including Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies and the like, have downloaded Tap Reef 2, a mind-numbingly pointless game where 3D fish and turtles swim around in an artificial reef and wait for me to feed, pet and even breed them (hey, it’s a form of exercise).

So far, I’ve got Edwards the red snapper, Dolores the green sea turtle, Walton the jelly fish and Barr the Atlantic cod (pre-named, of course) swimming around in my reef, and for some odd reason I’ve also got an aztec pyramid in the background of my reef. I’m still waiting to earn enough sand dollars to trade in my common sea creatures for some of the more exotic breeds that I saw in Malaysia like the toothy Titan Triggerfish, you-cant-see-me Painted Frogfish or maybe the cute as a button and doe-eyed Black Blotched Porcupinefish?

The game is actually a little like a tamagotchi from the ’90s, prompting you when the fish are hungry and/or lonely, or when they’ve matured into adults for breeding. The only thing different is that when the fish die (which hopefully won’t happen to mine), you can actually resurrect them with some points or cash, but I haven’t figured that part out yet.

Meet my fish!

For now, Tap Reef 2, with its eerie background music and somewhat annoying underwater bubble sound effects, is (sadly) the closest thing I have to being back in the deep blue sea swimming among schools of jackfish, barracudas, sharks, bat fish, puffer fish, corals, sea turtles, etc… Oh, by the way, the app is FREE so if anyone out there is interested in or already playing it too, let me know, we can cross breed! 😉

Cockroach CSI: Death by Coffee Drowning

As mentioned before, I am a total cockroach magnet. At my old job, the cockroaches LOVED my corner cubicle and now, we share our tiny SoHo office space with a very fertile family of miniature roaches, who have been spotted anywhere from my desk to the cubicle walls to the secretary’s phone.

Luckily, the mini roaches mostly come out at night when we’ve all gone home for the day, but sometimes the next morning, we’ll find them in the strangest places — like in our coffee mugs. Yup, one morning, I found two dead roaches in the bottom of my coffee mug when I was rinsing it out, and I’m guessing it went a little like this:

Big Roach tells Little Roach how nice it would be to go skinny dipping in a creamy cup of Hong Kong style coffee.

Little Roach struggles to keep afloat in the coffee, while Big Roach relishes in the fact that there’ll soon be one less mouth to feed in the “megaherd” of roaches, meaning more crumbs for him!

Big Roach loses his footing while laughing and slips into the coffee as well, where both of them die a slow and painful death since they are highly caffeinated and do not slip into unconsciousness until about an hour later.

Moral of the story? Roaches should wear slip-resistant footwear when walking on slippery surfaces like coffee mugs. Crocs, take note, you’ve got a new set of customers (with six feet each)!

Banana and peanut lady in Central

I wanted to blog about this old lady in Central over a YEAR ago when I first started working in that area, and thankfully, she is still around for me to blog about today. No offense to her at all but she is probably near 100 years old if not older, and I really hope that she has a lot more years to live!

Located on the corner of Gage Street and Lyndhurst Terrace, the Banana and Peanut Lady is a withering old Chinese woman with sunken-in cheeks and a thin black ponytail. She sells bananas and peanuts next to the fruit stand across 7-11 and is usually there for most of the day. I don’t know why she’s still working as she’s so fragile and petite, but my guess is that she’s been there all her life and likes it(?) or has to do it to sustain herself (in which case we should all give her a little extra for her bananas and peanuts).

She’s usually wearing a traditional two-piece Chinese outfit in all black, and now that the weather’s cooler she has an extra coat on. I also noticed that her thumbnails are super long, as opposed to her pinky fingernails. Maybe I’ll work up the courage to ask her what she’s doing there the next time I pass by… (I know, I’m shy)!

Cockroach CSI: Death by Tobacco

No matter what time of year it is in Hong Kong, you’re likely to see one of the city’s most infamous tenants crawling around: the cockroach. In the summer, they are out in full force, scurrying along sidewalks, climbing up the walls, and sometimes (if you’re unlucky) flying right into your line of sight.

Now that it’s winter though, cockroach sightings are much more rare, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone. In fact, most of the times I see cockroaches these days is when they’re dead. Squished, flattened, stomped on, or worse, have you ever wondered what actually happened right before the cockroach was killed?

Introducing … Cockroach CSI: an investigation into the lives (and death) of our city’s rampant roaches. First up is a cockroach I saw in Wanchai last year, an image that I will never forget as it was such a vivid one.

I was on Jaffe Road right across Joe Bananas when I looked down before crossing the street. And, there, right next to my foot was a dead cockroach on its back, clutching onto a cigarette butt. I kid you not, his six legs were literally wrapped around the cigarette butt!

It’s clear how this cockroach died: death by tobacco. After a long night of partying with the call girls in Wanchai, this roach thought of winding down with a still-lit cigarette butt that landed just a few inches from him. After taking one long puff, he choked to death on all the nicotine, smoke and tar that filled his little lungs. So, the lesson here is, hanging out in Wanchai will kill ya!